The remains of a woman found dead last week off Wolf Creek Pass have officially been identified as belonging to a 49-year-old Texas woman who had been missing for nearly two months.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said the Mineral County Coroner’s Office identified the remains as belonging to Marlena Rena Mizell, who was last seen in South Fork on Jan. 2. An autopsy was conducted Monday.
CBI said the Coroner’s Office made a preliminary finding that Mizell died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries. Toxicology results are pending, the bureau said.
“The crash investigation being conducted by the Colorado State Patrol is still considered open and active,” CBI said in a statement. “Findings will be available at the conclusion of the investigation.”
Investigators do not believe, however, that foul play was involved.
CBI announced last week that a Ford Focus was found Feb. 23 hundreds of feet off Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160 near mile marker 162, in the area of the hairpin turn on the west side of the pass.
CBI said the human remains were found about 150 feet from the vehicle, but at the time, declined to identify the woman pending review by a coroner.
In an interview with The Durango Herald last week, South Fork Police Chief Hank Weber confirmed the car found off Wolf Creek Pass was Mizell’s, but he too declined to identify the woman.
Mizell’s daughters – Sarah Ferguson and Megan Mizell – went on the “Tyger True Crime” show Feb. 23 and said they were notified Feb. 20 that a backcountry skier had found the crash scene.
Mizell’s daughters faulted authorities for taking three days to visit the crash site. During that time, the scene was not secured, the daughters said.
Mizell was last seen about noon Jan. 2 making a purchase at the Rainbow Grocery store in South Fork. According to her daughters, she had been staying at the Rainbow Lodge in town.
Witnesses later said they saw Mizell leaving toward Pagosa Springs, which would require her to travel west over Wolf Creek Pass. She was seen in her car, a blue 2012 Ford Focus with a Texas license plate.
According to previous reports, Mizell’s phone last pinged around 1 p.m. Jan 2 off a tower about 30 miles north of Dulce, New Mexico, which would be about 20 miles south from where her remains and vehicle were found on Wolf Creek Pass.
The section of highway where Mizell’s car went off the road is notorious for car and semitrailer crashes. Drivers heading down the pass face a steep slope and then a hairpin turn.
The daughters said a vigil was planned for Tuesday, which would have been her 50th birthday. A GoFundMe account was created to help with Mizell’s funeral costs, which can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3pTVnaS.